Lonely Planet Writer

Restoration of two-thousand-year-old theatre in Turkey to be finished within three years

Excavations at a 2200-year-old theatre in south-western Turkey are due to be completed within three years, according to the archaeologist leading the works.

Laodicea Image by Carole Raddato / CC BY 2.0

Professor Celal Şimşek, from Pamukkale University’s archaeology department, explained that works are currently ongoing at Laodicea, in Turkey’s Denizli province. “Laodicea was a great metropolis and had two ancient theatres,” he told the Daily Sabah. Şimşek said that activity is currently focusing on the western (Hellenistic) theatre, which is 94 metres in diameter and could hold 15,000 people. According to Şimşek, inscriptions found in the northern theatre, built later in the second century AD, are evidence that important trade meetings were held here in ancient times. “This shows us that an entity similar to the European Union existed in this land 1800 years ago,” he said.

Excavations are also under way at a 35,000-square-metre temple, which was destroyed during the rule of Constantine the Great and became used as a market square. Both the theatre and the ruins of the temple were buried by an earthquake in the fifth century AD. Şimşek hopes to add Laodicea to the Unesco World Heritage List within the next five years. In March this year, the European Union Cultural Heritage Jury gave the excavation works a special award. Last week saw what was described as the most important archaeological discovery in Turkey this year when a unique 2100-year-old goddess sculpture was unearthed on the Black Sea coast.